the rainbow connection

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A different (and much tinier) yoked sweater snuck onto my needles while I was visiting my family – Skógafjall was just too big and unwieldy to pack. I finished it this morning, and it will soon be making its way to Alaska for a friend’s baby:

Blocking!

Yep, it’s another babyStripes! I’ve lost count of how many of these I’ve knit for various babies and toddlers…this might be the 5th one? One of these days I really am going to write up a pattern for it, for real.

I know infants don't need pockets but they're just too cute!

I know infants don’t actually need pockets, but they’re just so cute! And I love all of the little details in this sweater – the garter ridges in the yoke and the pockets, and the vikkel braids and corrugated ribbing at the neckline, bottom hem, and sleeve cuffs.

I also love the rainbow colors! Of course you could knit it with any two colors you wanted, but I’ve always used rainbow self-striping yarn as the contrast colors and it’s just PERFECT for little babies – bright and happy and gender-neutral, which is part of why I knit one for my own child:

mama + daughter + stripes!

I’ve always loved rainbows; when asked for my “favorite color” I have a hard time giving a single answer. I’ve got a pretty good reputation at work for my colorful outfits (why wouldn’t you want to wear bright colors during the dreary winter months?), and I’m basically not capable of wearing “neutrals” without some pop of bright color somewhere – if I’m wearing mostly black/grey, I’ll accessorize with bright green or turquoise or hot pink, and even when I *had* to wear all black, back when I played in orchestras, I’d make sure I had on bright colored undergarments, just for me :)

Ready for Pride!

I also love what the rainbow represents, in terms of inclusiveness and specifically, its connection to the LGBTQ+ community. Last weekend, my family marched with our UU church in our local Pride parade. It was my daughter’s 4th time marching with us, and it just makes me so happy to know that she’ll grow up knowing that love is love and seeing such a broad spectrum of humanity as the valuable people that they are. And though I could absolutely pass for “straight” given that I’m happily married to a dude, I’m actually bi (as you might’ve guessed from that kitty button, which unfortunately fell off somewhere along the march) and I feel that it’s very important for me not to skate by on “straight privilege” and be out there fighting for EVERYONE to be treated with respect and dignity. And for patriarchy-trampling :)

Me and my favorite kiddo at the Pride parade

There’s another meaningful connection that rainbows have, though, and that’s the reason for THIS particular babyStripes! sweater. If you have people in your life who have experienced babyloss (as those who’ve known me for awhile know that I do), then you likely know that surviving babies that come after those losses are sometimes called “rainbow babies”. This sweater is for a rainbow baby, and I hope it keeps her warm through an Alaska winter!

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another lopi sweater? yes!

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Just as soon as I’d finished up my Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan, I cast on for another sweater using Lettlopi:

another lopi sweater on the way!

It’s Skógafjall! The second I saw the pattern, I was smitten – I’ve been daydreaming of a sweater with trees around the yoke for ages, something that would capture a foggy day in the pines, and here someone else had already done all the work of turning it into a pattern!

Starting a new sweater (Skógafjall).

I already had the light green and grey and a couple skeins of the darker pine green (I’d considered it as a possible color for the Fiddlehead Yoke, but it didn’t look right to me), so only needed a few more skeins to make it happen. Yes, I broke my “no adding to stash” rule, but I really do intend to stick to stash for the foreseeable future. Really really. The only exception I’ll make is to buy red yarn to make something for M, because kiddo LOVES red and I…do not (and thus have none stashed).

Anyway, I’ve already knit the body, because stockinette-in-the-round is perfect mindless knitting, which is right up my alley in early summer when I’m still in decompression-mode following the end of Spring semester teaching.

Almost a whole Skógafjall sweater body!

I absolutely love the dark pine green color…it matches my eyes!

My sweater-in-progress matches my eyes :)

I’ve already started sleeve #1, but as speedy a knitter as I am, I’m still not sure I’ll be able to finish the sweater before we take off to visit my family in Wisconsin next week, and I think I’ll need to focus on smaller projects (I’m planning a sweater for a friend’s baby-to-be, and at least one Willow Cowl) while I’m traveling just for space considerations. But in any case, another finished lopapeysa isn’t that far off…and I’ve got the yarn to knit at least one more, because I have a kit for Gamaldags (in the light grey/bright colors version), which I plan to cardiganize. But I have yarn and ideas for a few others sweaters, too, so we’ll see what’s next!

what i did: afterthought underarm gusset

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I mentioned in my post about the Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan that I’d added a wee gusset to the underarm instead of simply grafting the live stitches together:

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Check out my sweet armpit!
Ha!

So, here’s what I did. You know how when you graft underarm stitches together, you usually want to pick up an extra stitch in each “corner” so as to not have holes? Well, to make the gusset, I did something slightly different with those extra stitches. I started by putting one set (I think it was “bottom”/body set, but it truly doesn’t matter) of live stitches on a needle, and joining yarn to knit.

Row 1: Knit across those stitches, picking up an extra stitch from the corner at the end of the row.
Row 2: Turn the work, slip the first stitch, and purl across, picking up an extra stitch from the corner at the end of the row.
Rows 3 and 4: Turn again, slip the first stitch, and repeat Rows 1 and 2 a second time. Leave the resulting 12 stitches “live”.

I went from having 8 stitches held at the underarm to having 12 of them, and a slight “wedge”-shaped bit of fabric. Then I did Rows 1-4 again on the other set of live underarm stitches, so that I had 2 matching sets of 12 live stitches, and I kitchenered THOSE stitches together. The result was a little “bubble” of stitches that looks slightly odd when the sweater lies flat, but tucks away beautifully when the sweater is worn, giving me the ability to lift my arm up high without a lot of pulling!

Showing off my armpit

I thank my former obsession with ganseys for giving me the idea of a gusset, though on a gansey the gusset is definitely worked as part of the pattern, not as an afterthought. For Fiddlehead Yoke, if I had knit the yoke just a bit looser, so that the underarm join was a bit below my actual armpit, I wouldn’t have needed the gusset at all…but I wanted a very close-fitting sleeve opening and a close-fitting yoke, and realized after the fact that if I simply joined the live stitches at the underarm, my sleeve opening would simply be TOO snug. This let me “fix” it without undoing the whole yoke, and I got a sweater fit that I’m super duper happy with. I don’t know if this would be a useful trick for anyone but me…I have kind of freakishly broad shoulders but thin arms, and I’m also flat-chested but with a really big ribcage (compared to the rest of my petite frame), so getting proportions to work for me in a way that results in a well-fitted sweater is always an adventure.

it’s a cardigan!!

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It's a cardigan!!

Hooray! I steeked my Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan this morning! Before steeking, I picked up and knit the button bands, because I felt more comfortable doing that with the sweater intact than with it cut open. You can kind of see the garter stitch button bands folded out to the sides as I’m preparing to cut in this photo:

Preparing to steek!

I didn’t crochet the steek or even put in a line of stitches with the sewing machine ahead of time, because Lopi is sticky yarn, and since I’d picked up and knit the button bands already, I felt like it would be secure enough. Here’s the first snip!

SNIP!

Look how neatly the stitches came apart…Lopi is great!

The beginning of the steek

I actually found steeking to be incredibly satisfying. Snip snip snip!

Steeking!!

The final snip was the most satisfying of all!!

The final snip!!

The cut steek lies nice and flat – I may end up covering with with a ribbon, but I don’t see a true need to do that, so I’ll only do it if I find ribbon that I think would be super pretty on the inside.

Hooray for steeks!

Here, you can see the little “gusset” I added at the armpits, instead of simply grafting them together – it gave me a little bit more range of motion around the arm. (If the yoke were slightly looser/deeper, I probably wouldn’t have needed them, but they work great and let me have a very close, modern fit around the yoke):

Showing off my armpit

I am seriously so happy with this sweater! It still needs to have buttons sewn on, and I’ll get to that at some point (but hey, now that it’s warm outside, it’s hardly urgent that my new cardigan have buttons!).

So happy with my cardigan

A few folks have asked if I’ll write this up as a pattern and to that my answer is a firm “I don’t know!” For one thing, it’s pretty heavily inspired by someone else’s pattern (Adrian Bazilia’s “Fiddlehead Mittens“) though obviously I changed the charts to make them wedge-shaped so they aren’t actually the same. But beyond that, the chart is 31 stitches wide at the base, and that’s…kinda wide, as far as a repeating yoke pattern goes. I’m sure I could figure out a way to make the math work for multiple sizes (I figured out how to make Vahtralehed work, and that’s an even wider motif!), but I’m not sure I have the mental energy for it right now. I’ve kind of forgotten how to be a designer…but I may want to dip my toes back in the water with something simpler first (like the hat/mitten set that seriously probably just needs to be tech edited). We’ll see!

almost done!

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Fiddlehead Yoke - almost there!!

Look what I almost finished while traveling over Memorial Day weekend!! With 7 hours of driving each way, and lots of time to knit while watching my daughter play with her cousin, I was able to finish the second sleeve, join everything up, and knit the entire yoke while we were away. Before I dive into that, notice how I have my keys clipped to my pants in the above picture?

Those puppies would have saved me a lot of drama yesterday morning! I had stepped outside with sweater and camera to take photos just after my husband had left to take our daughter to school and then drive into work. My plan had been to spend a relaxing morning at home and then walk into campus for the afternoon. But alas, guess what happened when I went to let myself back into the house? The knob was locked. And I hadn’t brought my keys OR my phone outside with me! I tried our neighbor-who-watches-the-cats’ house (she has a spare key), but she wasn’t home. At that point, I had about half an hour before my husband was supposed to call the tire place from his office about getting a warranty replacement for our tires, and since I didn’t know whether he’d be taking our only car in for that right away or whether he’d have to wait, I kinda needed to get to him before he set up that appointment to have any chance of being let back into my house before the end of the day. It’s about 2.5 miles from our house to campus, so that meant doing ~12min/mile pace…which is not a walking pace. I’ve not been a runner since autoimmune disease kinda took out my lower back/left sciatic nerve about a decade ago, but I managed it! (My left leg is a bit draggy now, alas.) I’m sure I looked kinda bonkers running with a camera and a sweater whose ends were trailing behind me, but what can you do? Lesson learned: never, ever leave the house without my keys, no matter how “sure” I am that I’m not locking the house behind me!

These would've saved me a lot of trouble yesterday! (Yesterday morning, I stepped outside with sweater and camera to take pictures, and locked myself out of the house...had to run to campus carrying both to get to my husband before he called the tire shop
Keys: don’t leave home without them!

ANYWAY…back to my awesome sweater!! I really couldn’t be happier with how it is turning out.

So happy with how this is turning out!

Look how gorgeous the back is!!

Fiddlehead Yoke - back view

I ended up deciding to do an i-cord neckline, partly because I was basically out of space (ribbing would’ve turned it into a mock-turtleneck!), but mostly because I’ve really loved the look of the i-cord necklines that Jennifer Steingass puts on her yoked sweaters.

Attempting to show off the i-cord collar.

My sweater ended up fitting me very closely, which is pretty much exactly what I wanted, and the only concern I have about it relates to range of motion for my arms. I haven’t kitchenered the armpits together yet:

Thinking about armpits...

I’m considering knitting a little bit of a gusset in that space, so that there isn’t pulling when I lift my arms. I think it’ll work great!

I’m a bit nervous about steeking…I’ve only steeked one sweater before, about a decade ago, but I know that Lopi is sticky wool and people steek lopapeysas ALL the time, so I’ve just gotta be brave! Then my plan is to knit garter stitch button bands with a contrast-color (the same as the neckline i-cord) bind-off. I think it’s going to be awesome!

From above

See you on the other side of the steek!

it has begun!

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I said that my Fiddlehead Yoke design was next up, and I meant it. On Friday, I cast on, and as of today, I have nearly an entire sweater body!

I knit almost an entire sweater body this weekend. Lettlopi knits up so fast!

It took awhile to get going, because I am apparently spectacularly bad at counting when I’m doing a tubular cast-on. The first time, I cast on 10 too few stitches and knit almost the entire hem before realizing it. Then I cast on 20 too many (it’s the 10s place that I get messed up on, it seems), but thankfully noticed that while knitting the very first row. Third time was the charm!

Tubular cast-on, garter rib hem. Took 3 tries to actually cast on the correct number!

I ended up, after a great deal of internal debate, deciding to use 1×1 garter rib for the hems and cuffs. I considered garter stitch, and also considered doing a contrasting cast-on, but I couldn’t decide which of the yoke colors I’d use for it, and I do really like the look of garter rib. I’m still not 100% sure it was the right call, though. But I suppose if I end up deciding that it doesn’t really go with the sweater once I’ve done the yoke, I can always rip out the hems/cuffs and do something different. I also considered doing the yoke first, top-down, but decided to use the more traditional bottom-up approach for this one. I’m kinda kicking myself over that, because I’m desperate to see what the yoke actually looks like knit up, but patience, patience, self, you’ll get there.

I’ve made some revisions to my yoke charts, mostly because I realized that given the row gauge I’m getting, my yoke was going to be far too tall. I looked at a few of the Lettlopi-based yoked sweater patterns that I own, and got a better sense for what a realistic number of rows in a yoke might be, and I’m pretty tickled with my charts now.

Considering how quickly the body came together, and the fact that we’ve got a road trip coming up at the end of the week (we’re going to Ohio to visit my in-laws for Memorial Day weekend), I very well might have a new sweater in the next week or two. Wow! Worsted weight knits up so fast compared to the sport weight I was using for my Elle Melle (which, by the way, is entirely finished except for end-weaving, blocking, and zipper-installation!).

Snuggling my Lopi sweater-in-progress.

I haven’t steeked a sweater in nearly a decade, so I’m a bit nervous about that part, but I know people put steeks in lopapeysas all the time, so I’ll just have to be brave!

oh, hey, i can knit again!

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This Spring semester has been pretty brutal on a whole bunch of levels, but now I’M DONE! I submitted and sealed my grades today, which means now I’m down to just the baseline level of research/meetings, which means I CAN KNIT AGAIN! And the first thing on my to-do list was knitting sleeve #2 of my grown-up Elle Melle. I finished it last night, and then moved onto the neckline this morning, and look, it’s almost finished!

Just button bands left to do!

Just button bands left to knit (and then a whole lot of end-weaving), but that’ll take some math, and I might need my brain to recover from non-stop final portfolio grading a bit before I’m up for that.

Almost done!


Still pretty darn tickled with how this is turning out. I did some short-rows at the neckline to contour it a bit, like I did with M’s Elle Melle, and I’m pretty happy with how it looks:

Almost done!

Look at the pretty raglan line!

Pretty raglan shoulder

I actually had been doing a little bit of knitting during the last couple of weeks of the semester, but it needed to be small and portable and relatively mindless…

A bigger hat for Miro

…like this 2×2 rib hat. It’s a replacement for the hat I knit for a friend’s baby. That hat got lost, and since baby had grown in the meantime, I made his hat a bit bigger. I know it looks impossibly narrow in the first photo, but it really does stretch!

Very stretchy!

It even stretches to fit MY head!

Proof that it stretches to fit my head!

But here’s what it’ll really look like:

What it'll actually look like.

I have SO many knitting plans for this summer, friends…far too many to actually make happen, given that I’ve got research work and travel and upcoming jury duty and cleaning up/clearing out our oh-so-messy house both inside and out (a 1000sqft house plus 3 people, one of whom creates an entire living-room full of art/engineering projects on a weekly basis, and the other two of whom work full time and are too tired to do much cleaning, can get *awfully* bad if neglected for most of the span of that first one’s life). But the next thing on my list, once I finish Elle Melle, is my Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan. I’ve got the yarn, I’ve got the design mapped out…it is GOING to happen this summer!